When a dentist recommends a root canal, many patients recoil in horror at the thought. Root canal therapy is one of the most unfairly maligned procedures in the dental world, as many people have grown up hearing myths from their elders. Here are the top three myths about root canals and why they are completely untrue.
Root canals are extremely painful. The reason that many people believe this is that the infection or damage to the tooth that is necessitating the root canal is horrendously painful. They associate the treatment with the preexisting condition, but this is not true in the slightest. During a root canal, the dentist will use medication to numb the area. The nerves causing the pain are removed in the procedure. This is not painful and provides instantaneous relief by removing the source of the discomfort entirely. While the surrounding gum may indeed be sore for a few days post-procedure, it is a discomfort easily remedied with over-the-counter pain medications.
It won’t last. The tooth will break within months. This myth originates due to it containing a nugget of truth. When a tooth is treated with root canal therapy, the blood supply is lost. This does cause the tooth to become brittle over time. However, the tooth can and should be reinforced with a crown. If a tooth breaks after a root canal, it is the crown or lack thereof that is the problem, not the root canal. Seeing a dentist well-versed in both root canals and crowns can avoid this problem entirely and save the tooth for decades, if it is maintained properly.
The treated tooth will feel dead and foreign inside my mouth. During a root canal, only the offending nerves and pulp are removed and filled. The nerves in your jaw and surrounding teeth will be left undisturbed. You will still be able to judge your bite strength and the presence of food or an object in your mouth. It will not feel much different after treatment, except that the pain will be eliminated. As an added bonus, hot and cold sensitivity is also greatly curtailed in teeth treated with root canal therapy.
Myths regarding root canals often begin due to a poorly-done procedure or a misunderstanding of its effects. By knowing the truth about root canals, you can make more educated decisions about your dental health.